Ten Minutes with a Townie

Kutztown’s come a long way since the days of one traffic light, one coffee shop and one convenience store. A few gems have been added here and there, some of them a bit under the radar, but all of them contributing to the wonderful community we love so much. For example, did you know there was a cigar lounge & store on North Constitution Boulevard, tucked away to the left, just before reaching Turkey Hill?

There’s a good chance you heard of the stellar operation and maybe even stopped in for a purchase, but what you might not know is you can now purchase KTL Cigars’ products when staying at Main Street Inn. We always suggest paying the owner a visit if you’re from out of town but when guests are craving a cigar after hours, they can get them right at Main Street Inn Bed & Breakfast and enjoy them on the lovely terrace, porch, or their room balcony.

In an effort to learn more about our awesome cigar supplier and the operation he’s running downtown, we put Todd Folk on the chopping block and loved what he had to say about upcoming events, when he likes to enjoy a cigar, and what Kutztown characteristics he’s fond of. We think you’ll enjoy the answers, too!

Main Street Inn: KTL Cigars is a distributor of tobacco products and accessories in Kutztown, PA with very future plans of becoming a lounge as well. Can you tell us where the entire idea came from for this store and why?

Todd Folk: I was sitting on my porch enjoying a cigar talking with an old friend of mine. It was fall, and both of us were discussing how we did not like to smoke in the cold because it isn’t enjoyable and how the closest cigar lounge was too far away. So, from there I just decided to start one around here.

 

MSI: The Grand Opening of your member’s only lounge is slated for October 13. What can people expect at this special event?

TF: The Oct 13th opening is for Members only. We will be making fresh brick oven pizza for all of our members. It really is just a time where we can thank our member’s and get to know them better through good food and obviously good cigars.

 

MSI: So you have a Member’s Only Lounge. How do you actually become a member? Are there specific requirements and, once a member, what are other rewards besides the lounge?

TF: Becoming a member is actually quite easy, the Club Membership is $120/year + a purchase of at least 6 cigars a month (this is a cigar lounge after all). With that members can enjoy access to the lounge and its amenities (WiFi, espresso, etc.) as well as discounts on cigars, special members only deals and discounts, access to member’s only events, and reduced pricing on certain public events (such as a scotch pairing). Also members are allowed to bring a certain number of guests to smoke with them as well. We also have a Preferred Membership which offers a bigger discount, more guests, a private locker, and more.

 

MSI: What are some top name brands that you carry which some cigar aficionados of Kutztown and the surrounding area might be surprised to hear?

TF: We carry a few big names such as Drew Estate, Joya de Nicaragua, and La Flor Dominicana. We tend to focus more on boutique lines of cigars that are still owned by the people who founded them. Such companies include EPC, Pinar del Rio, Cuban Stock, and Jesus Fuego just to name a few.

 

MSI: How do you decide which cigars to stock? Are there certain characteristics to look for in a good cigar?

TF: I like to look for unique companies. If they aren’t owned by a huge tobacco conglomerate I find that the cigars end up being more unique in profile and characteristics. Something you can only get when a company is run by the people who truly have a passion for their product.

 

MSI: Cigars are often associated with celebratory experiences like a baby being born or daughter getting married. When are your most favorite times to smoke a cigar?

TF: Haha! Breakfast. I enjoy a Joya de Nicaragua Antano Dark Corojo with my morning espresso. While that may not be special enough of an occasion for some people, I see it as a triumph over the previous day. I’m still here, still kicking, and heck, its a great way to start your morning!

 

MSI: Do you plan on having any special events at your store in the near future besides the Grand Opening?

TF: Tons! We will be holding several events every month, some open to the public like a Chili Cook-off Competition with Drew Estate in December, but many others will be member centric, like blind tastings, pairings, and just general fun events.

 

MSI: What’s your favorite part of Kutztown, the community where your store resides, and why would you tell people to visit here if they’ve never been before?

TF: Oh, wow, my favorite part is the little waterfall on the Saucony Creek Trail. Relaxing and enjoying a cigar and coffee there has cleared my mind many times. Past that, its the unique businesses around town. I live and breath by the coffee roasted at Global Libations (I have never found an espresso as good and trust me I drink a lot of coffee). Frying Dutchman makes great and unique doughnuts and other baked goods… and many other places. The feel is not slow paced but not fast paced, its right in the middle… it is a great location for someone who likes to always be moving but never wants to slow down too much, if you get what I mean.

 

Photographs courtesy of KTL Cigar Lounge.

Take Tomato Traditions Home for Your Own

Traditions are a beautiful thing. There are some people who frown upon the word “traditional,” maybe because they think it means boring, repetitive or the norm but there is so much more to a tradition than hanging on to a habitual event.

We have our sporting events, picnics and annual camping retreats but they always seem to change slightly each year. Sometimes a group of people fall out of touch. Maybe the original location is no longer used. In our family, however, there is one tradition that’s always the same; sauce making.

Of course some things have evolved for the best like technology and canning equipment, but the most important aspects are still the same. The tomatoes still fill up an enormous blue tarp early in the morning. They get picked carefully and scrubbed by hand in a large, water filled tub. Best of all, the camaraderie remains tight knit and familiar. It’s a lengthy, all day event coordinated by the one and only, Pam, The Innkeeper.

By the end, everyone is exhausted. The crowd varies slightly each year but the usual suspects tend to make an appearance at one point or another. Even if they can’t participate in the entire production, they pitch in when needed. Special guests will even show up from time to time, like my Nonno to dictate the tradition he started long ago or an ancient family friend who “can’t get sauce like this anywhere else.”

While we love the company and wouldn’t trade it for the world, the fact of the matter is, it’s easy to perform the process on your own. Us Corrado’s only use the large and in charge equipment because we prepare for years of feeding many mouths. We’re Italian. It’s a way of life. Normal eaters? They could use their regular kitchen inventory to complete a decent amount of jars.

Many directions you’ll find these days include various ingredients but Mama C and the Tomato Gang tend to keep it simple with tomatoes and salt. This does mean, however, that when you prepare the sauce for your meal of choice, it must be done in a certain way for maximum enjoyment (see steps for that below).

But maybe you don’t want to do it like Pam. If that’s the case, here are a few sites that could help you start your own canning tradition. Pam just finished up for the year but if you think an in-person tutorial would be best, don’t hesitate to join in for the 2013 season, with a warning of course, and ready to get your hands dirty!

Sites for Canning

1. Simply Canning

2. Heavenly Homemakers

3. Local Lemons

4. Ball Canning

5. Stick a Fork in It

Cooking Pam’s Tomato Sauce

1. Add a thin layer of oil to the bottom of your sauce pan

2. Bring to a low heat

3. Drop in chopped garlic and fresh basil (amounts vary with preference)

4.  Sear your choice of meat – best with sausage, pork, or homemade meatballs (if pre-cooked, no need to sear pre-sauce)

5. Add sauce to the pan and let slowly cook for hours (if time allows)

6. Sauce should thicken slightly or continue cooking until seared meat is fully cooked

 

Until Next Time,

Too Tradit to Quit

 

A Profitless Promo: Musikfest is the Real Deal

At first I thought I was going to begin this blog by apologizing for the lack of recipe. If you’re expecting to find the newest, quick fix for a sausage roast, you will come up empty handed after today’s read. However, that doesn’t mean the post is completely lacking a recipe today. I’m just experimenting with different ingredients. A pinch of people, touch of tunes, smidgen of snacks and other tasty tidbits make up one killer musical festival.

That’s the most you’ll here because if there is one thing I won’t do during this post, it’s list every vendor, special guest and artist making an appearance at the grand festival. They have a website for that. Instead, you’re getting the insider scoop, a recollection maybe, of what MusikFest is all about. Well, aside from the 10 days, 15 stages and 500 plus performances.

If you’re from the Lehigh Valley Area, there is no way you can grow up without hearing about Bethlehem’s Musikfest. It is the absolute culmination of the Summer with performances, crafts, beer (extra large mugs included), fun-loving crowds and FOOD. In fact, I’m surprised they haven’t changed the name to Foodfest because that’s definitely what it always was to me. Do Aw Shucks and Take A Taco mean anything to you?

Raised a mere 30 minute drive away, it was “cool” to walk around the widespread festival grounds with your group of high schooler friends. I enjoy observing that now, when I return at the age of 24. A young couple holding hands, distanced from their friends who are busy playing a game that ends in public humiliation. They stop at their favorite food vendors, scrounge for change so three of them can share a pork bbq and carry on to admire the unusual fried food selection.

It’s impossible to cover everything in one night, so if you can make a day (and night) out of it then that’s your best bet. There were times when I attended and didn’t make one purchase at all. Not because I was being frugal, couldn’t find anything I liked, or refused to support local organizations. I was just so distracted, in a good way, by the ambience.

There is music everywhere you go but not too much to create overlapping sounds. Laughter from festival goers, old and young, hang in the air as you meander along the many walk ways. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in the historic streets of Bethlehem or trotting near the river. Attendees may strike up a dance wherever they see fit, be it to some free local tunes or a big time ticketed act like Goo Goo Dolls or Boston.

The usual fair food is always in abundance with a few surprises unique to the Lehigh Valley Area. Local restaurants happily open their doors for those looking to escape the street bustle. The best of both worlds prevail when you can down a funnel cake then pop into Mama Nina or Tapas on Main for one of a kind gourmet cuisine.

If you’ve been attending on an annual basis then I hope you plan to return for the 29th year with friends and family, continuing a magnificent tradition. It’s not my job to point fingers at people who haven’t attended Musikfest but I’m happy to vouch for the 10 day long experience that should not be missed.

If you decide to make a few days of it, there will always be nearby, comfortable lodging at a friendly place called the Main Street Inn. Even though that part is my job, the vouch is just as genuine.

 

Until Next Time,

Friendly Foodfest Favorer

Photos compliments of Musikfest.